4 episodes

Conversations with smart people in the video game industry on how games get discovered and played.

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Tales From GameDiscoveryLand Simon Carless

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Conversations with smart people in the video game industry on how games get discovered and played.

newsletter.gamediscover.co

    Podcast: Mod.io's Scott Reismanis on the impact of UGC in games

    Podcast: Mod.io's Scott Reismanis on the impact of UGC in games

    Welcome to the fourth Tales From GameDiscoveryLand podcast in Season 1. In this episode - recorded a few weeks back - we talk to Scott Reismanis, founder of platform-agnostic game mod host/platform Mod.io about the evolution of UGC (user-generated content), the impact of this content in games, and the future of the space.
    Presented by Simon Carless, founder of GameDiscoverCo, this bi-weekly, limited series podcast features conversations with smart people in the video game industry on how games get discovered and played. Below is a lightly edited full transcript of the entire podcast.
    Reminder: you can get hold of episodes via our official podcast page, and also via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Pocket Casts. If you need it, here’s our podcast RSS feed. And thanks in advance for listening.
    Podcast transcript: Scott Reismanis and Mod.io
    Simon: Have you heard all the fuss about user-generated content for games in recent years? If your game supports UGC or mods, it can significantly boost its virality and discovery. Which is why we were so excited to catch up with Mod.io founder Scott Reismanis for our latest podcast. 
    Scott was also the founder of ModDB and IndieDB, and has been involved in the mod scene for more than 20 years. His new VC-backed company, which helps run cross-platform mods for games like Snowrunner, Totally Accurate Battle Simulator, Deep Rock Galactic & Skater XL - is doing some interesting work to make mods available multi-platform. 
    So let's hear all about the benefits and pitfalls of making modding a discovery engine for your games. I'm Simon Carless, founder of GameDiscoverCo, and this is the Tales From Game Discoveryland podcast. 
    [music]
    Simon: Okay, so I'm here with Scott - How's it going, Scott? Are you having a good day?
    Scott: It’s going well, thank you. Just wrapped up a successful trip to GDC, and it's great to be talking today.
    Simon: Awesome - we've certainly known each other for a while. We did some work together back in the day on things like the Indie Royale bundles but obviously I'm very interested to hear about your latest project Mod.io. 
    I was looking at the progression, and you noted on your blog that you had 12 million mods downloaded in 2019, 70 million in 2020, and 208 million in 2021. So clearly, the service - which provides mod support and a kind of centralized [hub] for a bunch of different games - is going quite well.
    Can you talk about what particular games your growth has been led by? I'm interested to hear like the three or four games that you feel that people are really, really getting going on Mod.io.
    Scott: So Mod.io and modding in general has typically spanned many genres of games, whether it's open world RPGs, like your Skyrims and your Cyberpunks, through to simulation games - we always said if it has a bus, trains, cars or planes in it, it's suitable. Right through to the multiplayer first person shooters and competitive games - where just customizing your avatar or changing the level can have a big impact on gameplay. 
    For us, our growth has been driven by, probably, all of those genres. But in particular simulation titles, for whatever reason. We've got a lot of truck and bus and car related games on the service. And they're just extremely popular with the players because once you've tried the 5 to 10 vehicles available to you, naturally you want something that's faster, bigger and got more wheels - whatever it might be.
    So they've really driven it . But it's definitely a diverse bunch, because we've got games like Totally Accurate Battle Simulator that kind of break the mold. It’s in physics simulators that people are dropping-in characters, and they've submitted 1.5 million pieces of content - and driven a lot of downloads.
    Simon: Can you talk about the broad type of mods that you're seeing? I think people have different opinions of mods based on what they think ‘mods’ means - and it's everything from cosmetics to kind of total conversions. C

    • 40 min
    Podcast: Devolver's Clara Sia on the streamer-led discovery process for games

    Podcast: Devolver's Clara Sia on the streamer-led discovery process for games

    Welcome to the third Tales From GameDiscoveryLand podcast in Season 1. In this episode, we talk to Clara Sia. She’s currently the ‘influencer strategist’ at noted indie publishing label Devolver Digital, but has previously worked in streamer relations for a number of years, and streams on Twitch herself.
    Our subject? The vitally important - and very complex - YouTube and Twitch ecosystem, one of the primary ways that PC and console players discover games in the 2020s. Below is a lightly edited full transcript of the entire podcast.
    Reminder: you can get hold of episodes via our official podcast page, and also via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Pocket Casts. If you need it, here’s our podcast RSS feed. And thanks in advance for listening.
    Simon: Streamers - they're kind of important to people discovering your game, in 2022. Incredibly important, in fact. Which is why we were so excited to get veteran influencer manager and strategist Clara Sia to the podcast.
    Clara is currently working at Devolver, and previously had a long-time stint at a third-party agency. She even streams herself on Twitch, and we had a lot to talk about, given the complex nature of the streamer ecosystem.
    So let's dive straight into what I like to call streamer anthropology with Clara.  I'm Simon Carless, founder of GameDiscoverCo, and this is the Tales From Game Discoveryland podcast.
    Simon: Hey everyone, and welcome to The Tales from GameDiscoveryLand Podcast. I'm Simon, and I'm here with Clara. How's it going?
    Clara: It's going swimmingly. Yourself, Simon?
    Simon: I am doing great, thank you. I'm very excited to talk to you because we're talking about streamers, and… something that I think is very important and honestly still not discussed enough in game discovery. This is how you deal with streamers, and how you interact with them, and how they think. 
    I wanted to start by asking you - you've been a longtime Twitch partner yourself focusing on indie titles, I wanted to ask how you personally pick games to feature. Is it the outreach from the dev? The game being great? All of the above?
    Clara: Typically, all the above, I've always been a casual streamer. So just because I have a little purple check mark it doesn't mean I'm serious or like, a career streamer. I originally started playing Guild Wars 2 and then I moved on to other MMO. I originally did it because… people were giving me in-game gold towards a legendary [weapon] to stream. I… grew to love it and I moved on to triple A titles and retro games. 
    Then I got [Twitch] partnered later that year, and I discovered indie games for the first time. Actually, I just decided I didn't care about numbers, I cared more about just having fun and finding new things.
    So the discovery is now my favorite aspect of picking and streaming games. I used to do these themed weeks like, you know, paper-themed indie games, dark-themed games, farming… Or if a game or dev at a booth made an impression on me at PAX and then follow up after, I’d play their game.
    But now I'm super casual. I used to stream five days a week. Now I'm just two nights a week. So I pick something that's come out recently… that fits my current moods. It’s oftentimes more chill these days… I think they're called cozy streams now. And because I'm not a career streamer, I have the luxury to play what I want, and I don't bother with this strategic game choice. 
    That being said, if I ever did want to put serious focus into my stream, there'd be a number of things I'd have to change about it to be commercially successful. And that would include game choice, I would definitely have to be more strategic about it.
    Simon: That's the nice thing about Twitch. You can have people from all areas, people doing it for fun, and you can have people doing it more strategically for income. And I did wonder about indie titles in particular.
    It seems like maybe indie titles have a tougher time breaking through on Twitch sometime

    • 47 min
    Podcast: Dread Hunger's James Tan talks the hit social deduction game.

    Podcast: Dread Hunger's James Tan talks the hit social deduction game.

    Welcome to the second Tales From GameDiscoveryLand podcast in Season 1. In this episode, recorded a few weeks back, we talk to James Tan of Digital Confectioners, one of the key creators of smash hit social deduction game Dread Hunger. He talks about the project’s ‘hook’, its surprise Chinese success, and post-1.0 path to 1 million units sold (!).
    Presented by Simon Carless, founder of GameDiscoverCo, this bi-weekly, limited series podcast features conversations with smart people in the video game industry on how games get discovered and played. Below is a lightly edited full transcript of the entire podcast.
    Reminder: you can get hold of episodes via our official podcast page, and also via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Pocket Casts. If you need it, here’s our podcast RSS feed. And thanks in advance for listening.
    Podcast transcript: Dread Hunger’s James Tan!
    SIMON: Imagine you're an explorer, trapped on a ship in the Arctic tundra, with your crewmates. Some of them may not be entirely who they seem. How do you survive, find the traitors, and win the game? This is the conundrum in the Digital Confectioners-published social deduction game Dread Hunger. It's one of the top titles on Steam right now, thanks to its massive viral success in China.
    For our latest podcast, we had a chance to explore these wild viral discovery moments for the game with James Tan, one of the main creators of Dread Hunger. How did the team approach development? Why did the game take off shortly after its 1.0 launch? And what can we all learn from his success?
    I'm Simon Carless, founder of GameDiscoverCo, and this is the Tales From Game Discoveryland podcast.
    [Music]
    SIMON: Great, so here I am and I'm here with James Tan, how's it going, James?
    JAMES: Hey Simon, this guy really well, thank you.
    SIMON: Cool, yeah, I'm excited about this because you're one of my first guests on the podcast, and I get to talk to you about Dread Hunger. And Dread Hunger is a game that's doing pretty well recently. So firstly, congratulations on that - are you happy with how it's being received right now?
    JAMES: Thank you. Likewise, this my first podcast so I'm very excited to do this as well. Yes, I would say we're extremely happy with the results, and extremely happy about the success of the game. 
    SIMON: What I wanted to start with was talking about the background of the creation of the game. I know that social deduction games have been around for a while - even before Among Us. And Among Us is obviously a well-known one. But there's also games in VR - like Ubisoft had Werewolves Within that I think was social deduction as well. So I wanted to ask - what made your team want to make a game like this? What's the genesis of the project?
    JAMES: So this project started around late 2019, when we got together with a good friend of ours, [Killing Floor creator] Alex Quick. We had made games together in the past - we made Depth together way back. 2012 was when we started that project together with him. And essentially, I gave Alex and my lead product designer Neil free rein to do whatever they felt like doing. And given that Depth was an almost hardcore, PvP, asymmetric style shooter, they wanted to do something a little different.
    They explored around all these different genres and all these different themes - and they settled upon social deduction. It wasn't very popular right at that moment, and they've been playing some really popular board games surrounding social deduction, things like The Resistance, card games like that.
    I think that sort of sparked this initial idea of: “Oh, what happens if we try asymmetric from a different angle of hidden information, rather than one side is sharks and one side is divers.” They are obviously very different. But in this case, it was more about “Oh, what if the asymmetry was about information, and how asymmetrical that that can be?”
    And it sort of evolved from that idea, rather than looking at: “Is social d

    • 43 min
    Podcast: Kate Gray on how media discover your games

    Podcast: Kate Gray on how media discover your games

    Welcome to the first Tales From GameDiscoveryLand podcast in Season 1. In this episode, we talk to Kate Gray - a veteran writer for sites like NintendoLife, Kotaku, and RockPaperShotgun - about what the media expects from game creators, how to attract media attention, and most importantly, the things NOT to do.
    Presented by Simon Carless, founder of GameDiscoverCo, this bi-weekly, limited series podcast features conversations with smart people in the video game industry on how games get discovered and played.
    Reminder: you can get hold of episodes via our official podcast page, and also via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Pocket Casts. If you need it, here’s our podcast RSS feed. And thanks in advance for listening.
    Podcast transcript: Kate Gray on how media find your games
    SIMON: Picture the scene. You're trekking through the dense jungle of video game discovery, without a map. You're looking for a familiar face, a helping hand, a useful conversation about how people find and play your games. And perhaps you've found it in the form of long-time journalist and writer Kate Gray.She's worked with NintendoLife, Kotaku, RockPaperShotgun and many more outlets besides, across her career to date. Our conversation is centered around what the media expects from game creators, how to attract their attention, and most importantly, the things NOT to do.I'm Simon Carless, founder of GameDiscoverCo, and this is first ever episode of the Tales From Game Discoveryland podcast.
    SIMON:  Hey there - I'm here with Kate. How's it going, Kate? 
    KATE: Hi. It's going well.
    SIMON: Excellent. I was super excited to talk to you because of your experience both on the dev side of the business - community management and writing - and as media. Firstly, I wanted to chat a little bit about the concept of game hook, because I wondered - what's your definition of game hook? Like, how do you see it when you get shown games?
    KATE: That's interesting, because I see tons of Steam pages every week and a lot of them are very formulaic, which is not in itself a bad thing. If there's a formula, I know what to expect from you. But I think it's really honing in on what your game can offer that other games don't.
    That's where you're going to find your hook. You can cover things like the genre. If it's a really interesting genre or a particularly popular genre, you can talk about that. You can have a really good tagline - that's less common, but I'd love to see more sexy taglines. You can imagine what your demographic is and try to laser target them. But the hook is very much similar to the elevator pitch, where you want to summarize your game in just one - maybe two - sentences with enough attention-grabbing keywords.. 
    It makes the press pay attention and, it makes people's ears perk up. That's going to be doing a lot of the selling of your game, and the press will pick that up and run with it as well. So have a good hook.
    SIMON: From my perspective, I'm always interested in the visual hook as well. I know that a lot of us are browsing Steam pages all the time. Do you think there's something visually in games where you look at them, when you get a little bit more interested? Have you noticed particular facets to games that help you with that? 
    KATE: I mean, games have this sort of interesting visual art aspect that maybe movies don't really have in the same way. You can have people who really love pixel art games, they're going to pretty much snap up any pixel art game, or like a voxel game or low poly game - an art style can be a hook.
    So, lean into that if that's an aspect that you have. The screenshots can do a lot of the work there, obviously, and the trailer as well. But if somebody is browsing Steam, generally what you want is to have something eye-catching as your thumbnail. You have such a little amount of time to grab somebody's attention, and you have so little space to do it in.
    Because on Steam, you are basically just a picture and maybe a ti

    • 45 min

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